Wildfire Policy Briefing Focuses on 3 Rs:  Resilience, Response and Recovery

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Monday morning’s Cap-to-Cap policy briefing focused on the devastating effects of wildfires on the lives of residents throughout our region, on fragile watersheds, air quality, critical infrastructure and commerce.  Facilitated by El Dorado County Supervisor and Board Chair Wendy Thomas, who shared her own personal experience with the Mosquito Fire, the briefing featured area experts in air quality, water resources, and firefighting to give Cap-to-Cap attendees an inside peak at the various ways the growing threat of wildfires requires a comprehensive and multi-jurisdictional approach to promote health and resilience for our forestlands.  Asked about the severity of the fires, Erik White, the Air Pollution Control Officer for Placer County, said, “During the Mosquito Fire, our air monitors registered the worst air quality in the world  — worse than China, worse than India, worse than anywhere else in the world, and we felt the impact of this.”  Chief Adam Mitchell of Sac Metro Fire explained that local fire agencies typically make up more than 50% of the total resources deployed on any given wildfire, regardless of land ownership – federal, state, or local  — making the fight very personal, and impactful on our community.  Auburn Councilwoman Alice Dowdin-Calvillo showed pictures showing the difference between a healthy forest and a forest choked with understory brush that can turn small fires into catastrophic ones, and why forest treatment is a big part of the solution.  Asked if the wildfire problem is insurmountable, Tony Firenzi with Placer County Water Agency ended the panel giving attendees reason for optimism.  “We are making solid progress.  A pledge was made between the Newsom and Trump Administrations to treat a million acres of forestland in California.  We have treated 350,000 acres so far towards that goal.  As part of Cap-to-Cap this year we need the federal government to keep their pledge to work with us to treat the rest, and soon.  While we know it will cost a lot of money, we can’t really afford not to get this job done.”  

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